Google-related news may be all about Pixel, Nexus and Andromeda right now, but such a narrowed down field of topics would neglect the actual number of things the company — or, rather, the parent Alphabet — is actively working on; a big number. And one of its craziest, most interesting projects is Project Loon, which made extraordinary progress over the past few months…

In particular, as per a post published over the weekend on Loon’s official Google Plus page, the team has been actively working on navigation technology, which saw significant enhancements that ultimately allowed the balloons to stay up in the air for markedly longer times than before.

And, as a result of the technical upgrades, one balloon managed to float around South American airspace for no less than a startling 98 days — that’s over three months of dancing in the skies. But how exactly did they make it? Well, the short answer is that new software algorithms worked out intelligent ways to pick up the currents and determine the right altitude.

“To test the latest updates to our navigation technology, we set one adventurous balloon the mission of travelling to Peru from our launch site in Puerto Rico, and then staying in the region for as long as possible. After 12 days in transit, the balloon was able to spend most of its time in the stratosphere 20km over the areas around Chimbote, Peru, making dozens of altitude adjustments each day to find the right winds that could keep it within range,” the post reads.

When wind patterns couldn’t be found, the balloon was able to figure out its second best option, like drifting out over the Pacific Ocean and subsequently taking advantage of other easterly winds that would drift it back into position. “In total, the balloon managed to spend 14 weeks in Peruvian airspace, which required making nearly 20,000 separate altitude adjustments during its flight,” the Loon team says.

That’s quite impressive indeed; apparently, for these guys, not even the sky is the limit.

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Edoardo Maggio

Italian. Tech geek, video games, photography and music lover, comics-based movies enthusiast, and a sucker for good design. Amateur photographer (VSCO, 500px), writer and reporter for 9to5Google.

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